Predicting the Detroit Red Wings third line for the 2021-22 season.
For me, this is where things get interesting.
This is also where the organization, head coach, and fan base start to waver, having several options creating plenty of different opinions.
I expect to see Joe Veleno begin the new season as the Detroit Red Wings third-line center. Veleno has the makings of growing into a reliable two-way center, and that’s exactly what we’d like to see on Detroit’s third unit moving forward.
In the past, this spot had been occupied by Frans Nielsen or Valtteri Filppula. Both were reliable in the defensive zone but failed to create any sustained offense over the past couple of seasons.
It will be a tough ask of Veleno to excel without some growing pains, but I like his overall potential, and it’s time to see if he’s NHL ready. Veleno appeared in just five games last season, with the Red Wings scoring one goal while skating to an even rating.
The Detroit Red Wings would be wise to surround their 21-year old rookie center with a pair of veteran wingers.
This is why I’d like to see Bobby Ryan earn a roster spot once again with the organization after signing a personal tryout (PTO) contract to being training camp. Over the past two seasons, Ryan has struggled to remain healthy, appearing in just 24 contests with Ottawa two seasons ago and 33 games last year with Detroit.
Ryan is a true professional and brings plenty to a young roster. During the preseason Ryan who many consider competing for a final roster spot with rookie Lucas Raymond was caught teaching the youngster on the fly while sitting on the bench. Ryan is exactly the type of player Detroit needs on their current roster to help the likes of Zadina, Raymond, and Veleno develop.
The 34-year old winger scored seven goals and added seven helpers last season with the Red Wings in 33 games. Ryan can move up and down the lineup, which creates additional flexibility for head coach Jeff Blashill. Ryan will also be an excellent option for Alex Tanguay, who hopes to revive Detroit’s power-play in 2021-22.
The third member of this unit should be Vladislav Namestnikov. Namestnikov is a handpicked depth forward of Yzerman’s who played with Tampa Bay during Steve’s tenure and someone he signed as a free agent shortly after arriving in Detroit.
Namestnikov is certainly not one of my favorite players, but I think my overall expectations before the start of last season proved to be far too steep. I thought Namestnikov would be a capable scoring second-line center but became snakebitten offensively too often.
The 28-year old is in the final year of his current deal that averages $2 million per season. Namestnikov can play center or either wing and may find his scoring touch playing alongside the crafty Veleno and in a set-up role to a proven scorer in Ryan.
Namestnikov recorded eight goals and 17 points playing just over 16-minutes per night last season.
Perhaps Suter will perform this season how I expected Namestnikov would last year? Here’s hoping.
Detroit Red Wings third line prediction: Joe Veleno (C), Bobby Ryan (RW), Vladislav Namestnikov (LW).